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Restaurant owners offer varied views on judge's request to exempt Kerr Co. from statewide mask order

Kerr County has had fewer than 20 active coronavirus cases since Aug. 14.

KERRVILLE, Texas — A couple Kerrville business owners are now weighing in on a judge’s request to exempt Kerr County from the statewide mask order enacted by Gov. Greg Abbott, which remains in effect. 

Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly confirmed he filed the application for exemption on Tuesday.

State data indicates Kerr County has fewer than 20 active coronavirus cases, which meets the criteria for the face covering exemption.

“I’ve had people contacting me for the past month,” Kelly said. “I’ve told them I wanted to see how we did getting kids back into school. We’ve seen that. We’ve done better than I thought we would. I’m pleased.”

Melissa Southern, owner of the Rails Café at the Depot, weighed in on the exemption request.

“We’re in a service industry so we want to make sure that people are safe coming here,” Southern said.

Southern noted that even if Abbott lifts the order for Kerr County, the masks aren’t coming off at her restaurant.

“If you’re not able to socially distance, you should wear a mask and so we feel that’s important, so we feel that’s important to do for our customers and all of my staff have continued to do that,” she said.

Southern says there’s been occasional pushback from customers who have problems with the mask order. But she acknowledges that’s a vocal minority.

“We’ve had a lot of customers actually thank us,” she said.

At LaFour’s Seafoord Restaurant, meanwhile, tables are sanitized and separated per CDC guidelines, but masks are not required.

Debbie LaFour welcomes the county judge’s action to request a waiver on the mask order.

“I’m really happy. I think that people should make their choice whether they want to wear a mask or not,” LaFour said.

LaFour is thinking about the future and looking forward to a post-pandemic world free of restrictions.

“I’m ready for the times to get back to normal.”

As of Tuesday, Kerr County had eight active cases of the coronavirus, 449 recoveries and 10 deaths.